The senior micro-internship program at Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) is an innovative initiative to provide high school seniors with real-world work experience and exposure to different career fields. This program is unique in that it is a short-term, job-shadowing experience that takes place throughout two six-week sessions during the spring semester.
For the program, EPHS engages local nonprofits and other businesses to help develop short projects on a six-week timeline. This EPHS initiative aims to help address a near-term need of the business. These projects give students a real-life business learning experience and give businesses access to high-value and motivated resources.
Rachel Hari, the coordinator of the micro-internship program at EPHS, said these internships offer students a valuable opportunity to experience the industry firsthand and receive guidance in career selection. The program also enables seniors to build connections at local businesses, and develop skills that may help them in their future careers.
Six EPHS seniors just concluded a micro-internship program sponsored by the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation.
Iesh Gujral, a 2022 EPHS graduate, guided the interns in researching the safety of current and new models of semi-autonomous cars. The interns focused on identifying the top five safety features preferred by potential car owners, considering usefulness, cost, ease of adoption, and longevity.
The project began by conducting a literature search to compile a comprehensive list of safety features currently available in automobile models, as well as those planned for future implementation by manufacturers.
This was followed by interviews with two distinct user groups for autonomous cars. The first group comprised individuals who currently own or plan to purchase a semi-autonomous or autonomous car once it becomes available. The second group consisted of individuals who have reservations about autonomous cars and did not intend to purchase one. A total of 60 interviews were conducted for each category.
The interns shared their findings with EPLN.
Supporters of autonomous cars are impressed by their trendy appearance and the liberation they offer drivers from the task of driving, allowing for relaxation. However, opponents of autonomous cars argue that they are expensive and express greater trust in human drivers than in technology. Furthermore, they believe autonomous cars are unsuitable for Minnesota weather conditions.
Demographically, 50% of the interviewees are under 25 years old. Additionally, there was a 50-50 split between those who expressed interest in purchasing an autonomous car and those who did not. Despite the divide, 93% of all respondents prioritized safety over autonomy, and 67% expressed concerns about potential malfunctions in autonomous cars due to technology.
The interviews made it clear that safety is paramount.
Gujral discussed his experience leading the micro-internship program remotely from Washington, D.C., where he recently concluded his freshman year in the BS-MD program at George Washington University. He was happy to use this assignment to hone his mentoring skills and found it “an invaluable experience that allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.”
In addition, Gujral was not only impressed by the interns and their work but also excited to see what other innovative ideas will emerge for future micro-internships at EPHS.
As the youth outreach director at the Shreya Dixit Foundation, Gujral envisions continuing with autonomous cars in the next micro-internship in Spring 2024. He aims to engage traffic safety experts and automobile manufacturers to discuss the timeline for widespread adoption and the challenges associated with autonomous driving.
Gujral noted that the auto industry has invested much in autonomous technologies to enhance safety and convenience. He, however, pointed to a strong need for thorough testing and development of regulatory frameworks before full public acceptance occurs.
Editor’s note: Vijay Dixit is the chairman of the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocating for distraction-free driving. He is also a board member of Eden Prairie Local News and a member of the EPLN Development Committee and Journalism team.
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